05/11/2003 11:00PM

Awesome Humor is back, facing elders in allowance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The long-awaited comeback of Awesome Humor comes Wednesday when the unbeaten 3-year-old filly faces five older rivals in the feature race at Churchill Downs, a $56,300 allowance at six furlongs.

Trainer Elliott Walden said he is eager to see how Awesome Humor returns from the long layoff that precluded the filly from challenging for a divisional championship last year. Awesome Humor won four races to start her career, capped by the Grade 1 Spinaway in August at Saratoga, but was forced to the sidelines to undergo ankle surgery.

"She had one small chip taken out of each front ankle," Walden said during Monday training hours at Churchill. "You're always apprehensive when they come back from surgery, and also when a 2-year-old has turned 3. But we're glad to have her back, and I think she's ready to go."

Walden said he was somewhat reluctant to run Awesome Humor against older rivals, but the timing of the race is such that she will be able to run back in the June 6 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park if she emerges from the Wednesday race in good order.

"We do get quite a weight break with 108 pounds," said Walden, adding that jockey Pat Day can comfortably make that assignment. "She's doing good and worked really well toward this. This should be a good test for her."

Awesome Humor was purchased by WinStar Farm after she won the Debutante at Churchill in her second career start for trainer Ronny Werner. The filly then won the Adirondack and Spinaway for Walden before being injured.

The feature goes as the eighth of 10 Wednesday races. The only other allowance of the program is the ninth, a $47,400 turf allowance in which Day also rides the probable favorite, Mananan McLir.

Pat Day mired in rare slump

Day, easily the all-time leading rider in Churchill history, enters the Wednesday program on a rare losing streak. Day's last triumph here came a week ago Wednesday, when he guided Tarzan Cry to a come-from-behind win in the seventh race for Walden. After that, the Hall of Fame jockey lost with 22 consecutive mounts, including 12 favorites.

Walden wins with Quest Star

Walden won the Sunday ninth-race feature, a $56,240 allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf, with Quest Star, who led all the way.

Ridden by Larry Melancon, Quest Star ($7.40) gamely held on to win by a half-length over late-charging Roxinho.

Quest Star, owned by Mansell Stables, won the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park in March.